Lawyers go after Tannenbaum's assets

As lawyers acting for investors in the Ponzi-type scheme eye Barry Tannenbaum’s assets in Australia, a special task team has been established to investigate the matter.

The task team will comprise investigators from the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), the South African Police Service (SAPS) Serious Economic Offences Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

This follows the uncovering last week of the scheme, estimated to be worth up to R10-billion. About 400 investors, including high-profile businessmen, lost money in the scheme.

Attorneys representing victims said they will seek recognition in Australia of a sequestration order obtained in South Africa.

Michael Strauss, a partner at Ian Levitt Attorneys, was quoted by Business Report as saying a provisional order granted earlier in June should first be made a final order.

Strauss told the paper that lawyers were certain that Tannenbaum would oppose the granting of a final order when the matter was heard in court in July.

Strauss was quoted as saying by Business Report that his firm had found that a number of Tannenbaum’s assets were overseas and that it was “important to move before they are dissipated”.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies held an urgent meeting on Friday to “decide on a plan of action for a high level investigation into serious allegations including possible fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and foreign exchange control violation against Mr Barry Tannenbaum and associated entities”.

“The NPA indicated that prosecutors from the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit will be working closely with detectives from SAPS to evaluate evidence and to determine whether to prosecute any of the persons or entities involved in this scheme,” the statement read.

The NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit would consider whether any assets could be frozen or forfeited as proceeds of unlawful activity.

Tannenbaum is the grandson of one of the co-founders of Adcock Ingram.

The task team called on investors who had dealings with Tannenbaum and his associates to help with the case. Information would be treated as confidential and could be emailed to or in the form of a suspicious transaction report to the website of the FIC.
A dedicated telephone reporting line would be established in the next few days.